- Afghanistan faces mass starvation, cash drought
- Official tells Europe to unlock Afghan funds
- ‘Freezing this money is unethical’, finance ministry says
- Taliban will not respect gay rights, ministry spokesman says
Afghanistan’s Taliban government is pressing for the release of billions of dollars of central bank reserves as the drought-stricken nation faces a cash crunch, mass starvation and a new migration crisis.
Afghanistan parked billions of dollars in assets overseas with the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks in Europe, but that money has been frozen since the Islamist Taliban ousted the Western-backed government in August.
Under Taliban rule from 1996-2001, women were largely shut out of paid employment and education and normally had to cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative when they left home.
One top central bank official called on European countries including Germany to release their share of the reserves to avoid an economic collapse that could trigger mass migration towards Europe.
“Europe is going to be affected most severely, if Afghanistan does not get access to this money,” said Mehrabi.
The call for assistance comes as Afghanistan faces a collapse of its fragile economy. The departure of U.S.-led forces and many international donors left the country without grants that financed three quarters of public spending.
Although Western powers want to avert a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan, they have refused to officially recognise the Taliban government.
Haqmal said Afghanistan would allow women an education, although not in the same classrooms as men.
Human rights, he said, would be respected but within the framework of Islamic law, which would not include gay rights.
“LGBT… That’s against our Sharia law,” he said.
Mehrabi hopes that while the United States has recently said it will not release its lion’s share of roughly $9 billion of funds, European countries might.
Mehrabi said that Afghanistan needed $150 million each month to “prevent imminent crisis”, keeping the local currency and prices stable, adding that any transfer could be monitored by an auditor.
He said that about $431 million of central bank reserves were held with German lender Commerzbank, as well as a further roughly $94 million with Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank.
The Taliban took back power in Afghanistan in August after the United States pulled out its troops, almost 20 years after the Islamists were ousted by U.S.-led forces following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.